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  • Writer's picture Tim Caple

"Land of Hope and Glory"

Maurice Hope, an exceptional boxing talent, made his way to England from Antigua in the early 60's. His prowess in the ring was evident from early on, and his rapid ascent in the sport led him to compete at the Olympics in Munich in 1972. The following year, in June of 1973, he turned professional—a significant turning point that occurred 50 years ago this year.

Over his illustrious career, Hope clinched the British, European, and WBC World Middleweight titles, etching his name into the annals of boxing history.

Now, at the age of 72, Maurice Hope has chronicled his life story in print. The book, titled "Land of Hope and Glory", is set to be published this month. This memoir offers an in-depth look at his journey from the Caribbean to London, from his arrival at the tender age of 9 to his crowning moment as a world champion boxer.

I spoke at length with Maurice this week about his life and career and the moment he is perhaps most proud of the day he collected his MBE and managed to get a personal audience with the Queen.

Tim Caple (00:00.55)

So your early days growing up in Antigua, it sounds fabulous, it sounds idyllic, but money was a bit tight, wasn't it? Luxuries were few and far between, but you always seemed to be wearing a smile, whatever. And then your mother leaves to come to England. So how did that affect you?

Maurice Hope Mbe (00:28.205)

In a way, I've missed her terribly for a while, but fortunately for me my grandmother, Eva, her name was.

she looked after me very, very good indeed. At the time she saw I was a bit, yes, more soft, I should say, than the others. Very sensitive I was at that age. And I was very close to her and she looked after me a hell of a lot. And yes, I was so close to her that it helped me.

to not miss my mother as much as I should have done. You know, yeah. But I was very grateful to her and I will always remember her. So it's like I had two mothers at that time.

Tim Caple (03:00.9)

The big event of the week was church.

Maurice Hope Mbe (03:01.354)

I look forward very much for church and it wasn't too far up from where we were living. You know, two minutes. And that's the time that we just start, we put some proper clothes on to go to church. So that's another reason why we look forward to church. Every Sunday.

Tim Caple (03:30.659)

So tell me, Christmas time then, even for you growing up then in the 50s and 60s, there was no Santa Claus or anything like that. You didn't even know that Santa existed until you came to England.

Maurice Hope Mbe (03:31.146)

No such thing. That's correct, no such thing. And you know that's another reason why we loved England. Because we realised what Christmas was really all about and we enjoyed it very much.

As soon as one Christmas is over, we're looking forward for the next one. You know, it was such fun. And the presents and prizes that we used to get, it was like we were in another world altogether. You know, it was paradise, in fact.

Tim Caple (04:15.172)

So your parents sent for you and there was a choice, wasn't there? usually most people would go over on the boats because the flights were too expensive, but you then ended up getting a flight ticket. So you were going to fly to London. this must have been an incredible experience

Maurice Hope Mbe (04:43.594)

It was like a dream come true. We never believed that. In fact, we were so lucky because the first three that they sent for, the brothers, yes, first three, they went on the boat. In other words, they went on the boat, but by that year, because the money wasn't flowing at the time. They said that they enjoyed it very much, because it took a...

few weeks to reach England, so they spent a good amount of time on the boat But by that time my mother and father had, you know, got a proper job and they saved their money and then, you know, the next lot of trips which myself, my brother and my sister, three of us, we were fortunate enough to go on.

on the plane. And what an experience. I never thought that the plane was so big because the nearest that you got to a plane was in the backyard in Antigua. When you're looking up. We never used to go to the airport and saw how big the plane is. So it was quite amazing to sit down in the plane.

Tim Caple (06:21.314)

The big thing, wasn't it, when you got on the plane, they served you all this food, drink, sodas, breakfast. It was like living in a luxury cocoon for 18 hours.

Maurice Hope Mbe (06:38.565)

That's correct, yeah. That is right. We never believed, you know, things like that would happen. And of course, you know, my sister and my brother, who was with me, you know, in fact we had seconds, you know. In fact, we didn't want to come off the plane when it landed. It was my experience.

Tim Caple (06:54.945

And those first experiences of landing in England and you see all of these people walking around and obviously white people all with different hair colors. You'd never seen anybody with ginger hair.

Maurice Hope Mbe (07:17.925)

I'd never seen anything nothing in a million years and I realized that's what the world is all about. It certainly opened my eyes and I was really fascinated. So was my brother and my sister. We'd never seen so much white people

we realised that coming from Antigua to England is like a different world. I tell you one of the things that happened, just to show you how I'm accustomed to the plane, because I had my seat with a window seat, and I looked out the window all the way to England and I saw another plane following us. I said, well that must be routine, you know, following us to England to make sure we're well.

Till we landed, till we landed and I come out of the plane, I realised it wasn't a plane at all, it was the wing of the plane and I always remember that moment up in the sky, I'm coming up, you know, coming up to the airport and seeing all those different coloured people.

Tim Caple (08:59.681)

And you acclimatize into life in a new country, doing the things that kids over here would take for granted, which is like going out to a sweet shop. You'd never been in a sweet shop before, had you?

Maurice Hope Mbe (09:13.093)

a sweetshop in Antigua? That's right. And if you look at one of my favourite things I used to do in the sweetshop, it was, you know, they've got those bubble gum machine outside. I don't know if you've heard of that. It fascinated me, us in fact. You know, you put your money in and you turn.

You know, but they had a special choice they do, you know? Whatever, yeah. You put your money in and after two times you get a double, don't you? It comes out twice, so you know you're... Because of that, we used to put all our money in there just to get that double. Double. Double, double.

Tim Caple (10:04.511)

And what did you think of the local food? You became a bit of a fan, didn't you, of pie and mash and fish and chips?

Maurice Hope Mbe (10:13.893)

That's right, yeah, that's right. And the J .D .U. There used to have a special shop there in East London, in Hackney, by a weekly market. I don't know if you've heard of the market. And just outside there, there's a J .D .U. shop. You know it? And eventually, I got to know, I got to know

the owners and eventually the supporters of mine coming to see my fight in boxing. Two brothers. I hope they are still alive and listening to this interview.

Tim Caple (11:00.256)

How did you get on with the culture? I'm talking about media culture because again, you'd never had television, there's no cinema. So you're seeing all this as well for the first time.

Maurice Hope Mbe (11:14.917)

That's right, it was like that was heaven. Of course, you know, you used to sit underneath the TV. Plus, they used to have some children program, didn't they? You know what I mean? Like, the Lone Ranger, you know what I mean? All those cowboys, I've never seen so many cowboys before.

Maurice Hope Mbe (11:43.941)

And quite a few of them I could still remember. I used to sit on the TV with me and my brother. In fact, you know, my parents got us into do something else and do our homework. There was a different world altogether. We loved it. And I hope I'll be able to do that.

Tim Caple (12:05.662)

Your best ever Christmas present. This is something that will resonate with a lot of kids because was it your first Christmas? You got a scale electric set?

Maurice Hope Mbe (12:13.893)

That's good, I've never seen anything like that before. It made me stay hungry. I was in my room all the time, me and my brother. It was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I said, thank you, Father Christmas. We've never had such a good time in our lives. And you know, we're glad we came to England. We're glad our parents sent us, and we're in a different world, and we're enjoying ourselves very much indeed. Very much.

Tim Caple (12:45.566)

Your first fight in the early days, you said, I was hoping for a white opponent. They might be more skillful, but the black kids are stronger and skillful And you ended up with your opponent, a guy called Jones from Barking Boxing Club.

Maurice Hope Mbe (13:11.397)

Yeah, that's right. I was bitten real nervous. But after the first round, I knew I would move around. I got my confidence. He was very strong indeed, but I realized, yeah, brute force isn't everything. So I started to use my skill, move around and stuff. And eventually, the third round came and I won it unanimously. And I was very, very happy.

Especially after they give us the presents. The trophy is something to take home to my family. That's got a glass here. Drinking glasses. My mother welcomed all that. Something else to add to the showcase.

Tim Caple (13:48.413)

This was quite interesting because instead of trophies, you've got things like blankets, kettles, kitchen equipment.

Maurice Hope Mbe (14:10.309)

Yes, she was very happy and of course she encouraged me. She didn't like boxing too much, I think most women don't. But you know, especially me being so small, etc. But, yeah, she saw that is what I wanted and I had a lot of support from the rest of my family. So she encouraged us and of course, you know, I was glad to bring home the prizes for that.

Tim Caple (14:36.38)

Your ambition was actually to get into the army, wasn't it? travel, and adventure You went to the cadets, but eventually you didn't get in, did you?

Maurice Hope Mbe (14:40.293)

No, I didn't because you have to have an examination, especially the medical examination and eventually, unfortunately for me, they turned me down. They said I was flat -footed. I said, what difference does that make? He said, well, you know, it is, you know, you've got to go to fight or war or anything, you know, yeah.

You've got to get over those cliffs, you've got to get up there quick and bring back food, you know, it will hold you back. Unfortunately, yeah, I knew it, I knew it, I was really disappointed, but at the end of the day, I realized, yeah, you know, that wasn't my destiny.

Tim Caple (15:32.732)

At school, so you're at a school in Wandsworth, you've got 600 kids in there. There are just15 black kids. So what was school life like for you

Maurice Hope Mbe (15:56.858)

It really fascinated me, you know, compared to Antigua, it's like I'm in a new world altogether and I enjoy it. I literally enjoy going to school because, you know, something is always different there. And of course I'm looking forward to putting on the school meals as well, the school dinner. love! it

Maurice Hope Mbe (16:25.273)

I really enjoyed school very much, like sitting down and having conversation and learning and see how the other half lived. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. I was hoping that school would never stop. I'm not going to go up and leave it.

Tim Caple (16:50.396)

You suffered a serious accident though, didn't you? When you got run over crossing the road. I mean, you did what they always tell kids never to do, which was cross the road between two parked cars. But you did and you got run over and ended up in hospital and missing a year of school

Maurice Hope Mbe (16:56.089)

Thank you.

That's correct. That's correct I was so excited in England and playing outside , I ran straight out behind a car, a car. I mean lucky I should say, it wasn't a car that knocked me down, that ran me over.

It was a push bike, you know, but the person was going at a tremendous speed, you know, and I stepped right out behind the parked car and being a youngster at 11, you know, I had very sensitive bones, you know, they're still soft and you wouldn't believe that a push back could do such a damage and it broke my leg, yeah, and I was on the floor.

But he stopped, he stopped obviously and of course, you know, he came and helped me to help my parents to put me at the side until the ambulance came. You know, but like you said, he took me to the hospital, Metropolitan, I always remember that hospital, it is closed down now, you know,

I stayed a long time in there before it healed. It was just while I was changing over school to my secondary, you know, when they had that long holiday, I had my uniform, everything ready to go to school. It was quite a rush at that time.

Maurice Hope Mbe (18:56.983)

. I missed out the first year and started in the second year in school because of my year, because of the accident. But I was able to catch up, thank God, with all the other kids. And, yeah, in fact, that leg, that broken leg became an advantage to me.

in the ring because instead of bending my leg I used to move it, lean back on it because it's stiff and then I used to get out of the way it punches that way so I don't know how you capitalize on it but it's okay now obviously

Tim Caple (19:39.066)

In the Caribbean, it was stigmatized, wasn't it, to be left -handed or left anything. And the teachers would hit you with rulers and people would force you to write right -handed. Did you have a feeling or a sense that you were a bit different?

Maurice Hope Mbe (19:52.532)

Thank you.

Thank you.

Maurice Hope Mbe (19:59.956)

Yeah, they surely made you feel that way. I thought there was something wrong with me there They went as far as saying left -handed people belong to the devil. You know that wasn't very nice, is it? But the thing is, with most left -handed people, they're not just left -handed, but they're also left -footed.

So you try to turn them around and you get the whole body confused. You realise that. But I got away from that in the Caribbean and it never happened so much here in England. So I was able to use my left hand and my left foot. It served me. It made me have an advantage.

in the boxing ring because you know when you're left handed most boxers are not accustomed to that so you know easy to deal with so I had a lovely time being left handed in the end

Tim Caple (21:11.513)

boxing was in the family, wasn't it? because Lex was the number one contender for a British title. But bizarrely, this just shows you how times have changed and what things used to be like. Because despite the fact that he was the number one contender, he wasn't allowed to fight for the title because he'd not been resident in the country for 10 years.

Maurice Hope Mbe (21:37.778)

But unlike me, I came after him and I was younger than him and when the ten years is up that I was ready. But I was a pioneer, it was very hard for me to open the doors for the others. But it happened. It happened. By the time I was ready, I thought I was here for ten years because I was much younger than Lex. So I had my amateur experience first. And I was glad.

to be the pioneer and open that door for the others. It's different now, isn't it?

Tim Caple (22:13.784)

you didn't go straight into boxing, did you? When you left school, you were working in, well, a leather factory was one of the places that you were in.

Maurice Hope Mbe (22:35.983)

So, you know, like everybody else, a normal person going to work, you know, to the factory. But after, yeah, I realized I was very successful in the boxing. I had to give it up after the Munich Olympics. I came back and I gave it up because I couldn't have done two things at the same time. It took a lot of you, innit, to be standing and working. So, you know, yeah.

Tim Caple (23:15.96)

You had plenty of experience as well in the early days of boxing you were at Repton, the boxing club, but you went to the USA for the first timeas well boxing at the FELT Forum at MSG. What was that like apart from the fact that you had your first ever kebab and milkshake? What was the rest of it like?

Maurice Hope Mbe (23:39.276)

very exciting, you know, and I couldn't believe I'm visiting so many countries. And I thank boxing for doing that. It didn't only give me the chance to box, but to see the rest of the world and educate me and see how the other half live. So I was very thankful.

I was very thankful indeed.

Tim Caple (24:11.287)

Your biggest life event at that stage of your life had nothing to do with boxing or suites or scale electrics. It had to be passing your driving test, didn't it? And getting hold of the keys to that Vauxhall Viva.

Maurice Hope Mbe (24:15.723)

Thank you.

Maurice Hope Mbe (24:28.874)

I was so happy about that because I only had about 12 lessons and my brother who was behind me felt that it was not sufficient lessons for me to go and have my test. But that's what I remember when I did it before. Funny enough, I could always remember when I started up.

when I went into the car itself, first of all they gave me the eye test. You watch the registration of that car over there. That's the first thing they asked me. Because nobody wants to go in the car over there with a blind person. So I got through that. And the next year...

The next thing I did, wrong thing I did, I realised I started the car and took off and While I was driving and changing the gear, I realised that my hand is knocking on the handbrake, I forgot to take the handbrake off, didn't I? Fortunately, I don't know if you do it. Fortunately, I realised what happened and I eat while I was driving it.

Maurice Hope Mbe (25:54.665)

I eased it down quietly, without him looking. I don't know if he saw or whatever, but he never said anything. I was able to ease it down, so I got away with that one. Then I said, thank you. Thank you, God. I was so happy and proud that I passed my driving test the first time in a year. I never looked back out since that time. Thank you, God.

Tim Caple (26:44.791)

Now tell me, September the 5th, 1972, so you're part of the Olympic team, you're in the Olympic Village in Munich the terrorist incidents were unfolding. it's difficult to try and put this into words, I suppose. But can you remember what you were doing when you realized something was wrong?

Maurice Hope Mbe (27:21.062)

we heard those noise because we heard those gunshots because it was right next to us, you know, what was happening it was right next to us and of course, you know, it was the most frightening experience I've ever had we heard it

And I'm saying, please God, please God, don't let anything happen to me. I've come a long way and we was going under the bed trying to hide trying to protect ourselves in any kind of way. So we all made one another very nervous. Especially being so close and hearing those gunshots. But we were quite relieved.

when nothing happened to us and the noise stopped, the gunshots stopped but unfortunately there were about three, four, five people got killed in there, you know? And there's a thing that you'll always remember, you could never get that out of your mind.

Tim Caple (28:31.351)

Because what people forget is there were no mobile phones back then. So communication was difficult your family and your friends, nobody could really get in touch with you to see what was going on

Maurice Hope Mbe (28:52.292)

it took me quite a while before my family got to realise that we were alright but they were so happy they were so happy in fact they wanted me to come home straight away but things were working out they weren't sure whether they were going to put on the Olympics or cancer things were going to go early but eventually

They made it go on and everything worked out alright in the end. I thought I would have got a medal, you know, yeah. In fact, I fought a very experienced boxer. That was his third Olympics. It was a close fight, you know, yeah. And that's not... Yeah, that's correct.

Tim Caple (29:44.631)

This is Janos Kajdi

Maurice Hope Mbe (29:50.02)

It was a close fight and you know you are lost by your majority decision and eventually I was just out of the mail. I finished fourth year. Fourth year. yeah sure,

Tim Caple (30:04.567)

Did you get to see any of the other Olympic events while you were there?

. yeah sure, I saw you. I like the athletics. I went and saw the athletics. It's one of my favorite.

Tim Caple (30:19.703)

David Bedford was in your team then, wasn't he?

Maurice Hope Mbe (30:19.875)

That's right and I was very proud to be, you know, to be represented in England at the time and it's something that I'll always remember and cherish.

Tim Caple (30:42.455)

Repton had a huge influence on you right from the very early days. Do you remember meeting Joe Louis when he...

Maurice Hope Mbe (30:54.978)

yeah, I remember Joe Louis at the gym. Yeah, that's how can we forget. Famous Joe Louis. You know, in fact I've got pictures of me and him and the others with the Repton. You know, yeah. In fact, Repton was very famous, you know, forgetting, yeah, few of celebrities of the way and I was very proud of Repton, in fact, you know.

Tim Caple (31:21.879)

Rocky Marciano was another, but the other were Humphrey Bogart and George Raft.

Maurice Hope Mbe (31:23.073)

That's correct. You've got your knowledge ! your right here too, you know Very good. And I realised I was in the right club in Repton.

Tim Caple (31:43.927)

You got picked for Young England. a big honour that for you but you had to go to Dublin as well to fight in this box -off to get in there. The atmosphere was really hostile.

Maurice Hope Mbe (31:58.559)

I was very hostile but I realised that's how it's going to be that's how it works. Inside and outside you're going to have hostility but you've got to get the work done. I was very happy that I got another plane ride to Ireland, back in the plane and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed myself

Tim Caple (32:32.375)

You boxed at Madison Square Garden with England against the USA. You had a habit of bumping into people that would become very famous as well, didn't you? Because you bumped into this young guy who was an up -and -coming actor. Sly Stallone

Maurice Hope Mbe (32:48.094)

yeah! yeah, Sylvester Stallone! yeah, that's right! You're bringing back some memories, yeah! And that's another thing that I thank boxing for because it made me meet a lot of people, famous people, you know, show me the world, as well as, you know, being successful in making a name for yourself. That's why Stallone was another one that I met. And I'm very honoured as well too.

Tim Caple (33:17.879)

when you turned pro, there was only one real choice and you hooked up with Terry Lawless, who was the big name at the time. He had a great stable of fighters, including John H. Stracy What was it that drew you to Terry? What was it about him that you felt comfortable and felt like, yeah, this is the guy that's going to guide my career?

Maurice Hope Mbe (33:43.933)

Well, in fact I had help really, my trainer Tony Burns, he's the one who was close to Terry Lawless, he knew everything about the professional and etc. And he's the one who took me to Terry Lawless, he says, Lawless, you know, it's not easy in the professional game, you know, it's for money now and it's not easy, you know, everybody's for themself. But if this one person's gonna look after you, I know, it's Terry Lawless. We're very close friends.

. So he took me, he's the one who took me to Terry Lawless actually, which you know I'm grateful and thankful for. And he said, he's gonna look after you, he'll look after you Morris, you know, yeah. So make the most of it. And in fact that's what he did. Terry Lawless, you know, he looked after me very well indeed, you know. When I'm got fights, et cetera, two weeks, three weeks before the fight,

he used to take me to his home to make sure that I'm alright and I'm doing the right thing. He used to feed me and everything and I couldn't believe what was happening. And he never took, don't care what anybody say, he never took a penny from me until I became champion. He allowed me a chance first. And I'll always be grateful for what Tony Burns did and Terry Wallace did.

Tim Caple (35:11.312)

It was harder to become a champion back then today you say they fight hard, but it's not as competitive. The point that you make is very true. In your day, the best fought the best. It was as simple as that.

Maurice Hope Mbe (35:11.322)

Thank you.

Maurice Hope Mbe (35:32.858)

That's correct, no shortcut whatsoever. I know I have the talent. I've just got to be dedicated, keep being dedicated and do the right thing. And, you know, yeah, you make sure that you come out the first all the time. Plus, you know, I had the coaches Ellis and Frank Black and the others. They were very encouraging. And,

They motivate you, etc. And the main thing is to make sure that you put into work, you're out there for the long run.

Tim Caple (36:09.392)

you're getting more famous. You're getting invited to all sorts of things. And you saw Ali, didn't you, at boxing and exhibition in Albert Hall in 1999? Who did he compare your looks to?

Maurice Hope Mbe (36:29.688)

I went into the room with him and stuff and you know I was a bit disappointed really because he was who he was. I got in the room shaking his hand and he wouldn't kind of shake my hand straight away. So he told everybody that I look like Joe Fraser I didn't like that because he says you know Fraser looks like a gorilla doesn't he?

Maurice Hope Mbe (36:58.904)

But still forgive me because he was the best in the world. I've never seen anybody as good as Mohammed Ali, the best ever boxer.

Tim Caple (37:07.631)

He tried to put a few moves on your girlfriend though, didn't he?

Maurice Hope Mbe (37:27.35)

and we had some front seats. So as he came out, he saw her and he sent somebody to offer her to come down the scene and stuff. But you know, it didn't happen. She's still here and she's still talking about that up to now.

Maurice Hope Mbe (37:52.501)

She said I should have went with Muhammad Ali.

Tim Caple (37:59.086)

You weren't only a bit of a style icon in the ring, you were a bit of a fashion icon out of it. The old mohair suits and the brogues.

Maurice Hope Mbe (38:18.965)

and I like to look the parts as well too. You remember those? Yeah, those were the things I had in town, man. And, yeah, to where I lived here, there was a gentleman by the name of Harvey. He had all this stuff moved over there. I used to be his number one customer, and he used to look after me and give me, make me keep up the image I loved it, I loved it. In fact, I'm still doing it. You love it? Yeah, till I die.

once I put those things on, the old saying was, you know, let's go mo, let's go mo

Tim Caple (38:56.077)

When you look back now, do you realise that it's just gone past the 50th anniversary of your pro debut at the sporting club in Nottingham against John Smith?

Maurice Hope Mbe (39:15.19)

Wow, I don't know half century, wow, I can't believe it. It seems like yesterday, funny enough. I'd like to feel that I've still got my faculties and everything

Maurice Hope Mbe (39:44.117)

You know, I made the best of my time while I was young. And I thank God, Anthony Burns and Terry Lawless and all of them for encouraging me to do the boxing. And the training itself has helped me preserve myself, you know, because at the age of 70...

I'm still in shape I'm still doing a bit of work out as well in order to maintain myself. Thank you boxing.

Tim Caple (40:24.909)

are you still doing a bit of dancing because you're a big music fan, aren't you?

Maurice Hope Mbe (40:29.82)

yeah, that's right, you're still moving the feet, yeah, that's right, and moving the legs.

Tim Caple (40:40.396)

Who was your favorite? Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Bob Marley?

Maurice Hope Mbe (40:49.266)

Marvin Gaye is out too, yeah, a lot. And Bob Marley is one of my favourite, Peter Tosh the same, you've got it all here, yeah.

Tim Caple (41:02.252)

Lets talk about a couple of the fights, the European light middleweight against Vito Antofuomo, the bulldozer.

Maurice Hope Mbe (41:08.881)

Thank you.

Maurice Hope Mbe (41:18.289)

One of the hardest fights I've had, I was beating him, yeah, yeah, because in those days it was 15 rounds, wasn't it? , I was beating him over there and stuff, but yeah, it went 13, 14 rounds and my manager was saying, you're winning the fight Maurice you're winning the fight, but you're not winning enough rounds. They can do anything.

You know you better go out there and stop him.

and I stopped him in that last round . Yeah, he was pretty tough there.

Tim Caple (42:41.899)

It's amazing to think that had it not been for how sharp Terry was at the beginning, that fight might not have happened because when he went into the dressing room minutes they were plastering all that cement over his face to protect scar tissue Terry saw it and said get it off or no fight.

Maurice Hope Mbe (42:57.776)

Yes, right. Yeah, and he stayed. He got in. He was adamant that he's going to take it off . You know, because we're not going to fight. And he took all those stuff off his face because it's their country and everything. They're going to try everything in it. But like I said, Terry was very adamant. And he had to take it up. And I said to him, no, Terry, don't fret

I don't have to worry because I'm going to take his head off anyway

Tim Caple (43:39.338)

How did you feel traveling? you've coped in a hostile atmosphere there, which it always was. And then you go into somewhere which is renowned for the home decision, i .e. Germany. So you're in Charlottenburg for that world title fight against Eckhart Dagge and this was a big moment because the last fight wasn't on television. But this fight was going to be on TV after the victory over Vito

Tim Caple (44:09.194)

The other thing about this fight in Germany, you had a British referee at Harry Gibbs.

Maurice Hope Mbe (44:14.921)

Sure, and he saw what was happening as well. I beat Dagge I beat him over here. Over the 15 rounds. Because it was 15 rounds in those days, wasn't it? I beat him.

Maurice Hope Mbe (44:37.678)

You go and knock him out, you go and knock him out to win on points. Well, I certainly beat him, but unfortunately they gave it a draw. And Matioli was sitting ringside because we knew the winner had to fight him. So he saw what was all about and he saw that I beat him. In fact, he had a deal.

Tim Caple (45:21.418)

Did you have second thoughts about going to Italy because you were going to San Remo to fight Mattioli? It was the Italian judge who'd given it a draw in Germany.

Maurice Hope Mbe (45:29.453)

you can't afford to win on points, you gotta stop them, you gotta stop them on knock them out. So, you know, Mattioli,

he didn't want to fight me at all. It took me two years as number one which is going on right now just to get him but eventually I got him but I saw that he was trying to avoid me so he showed me that he wasn't confident of winning or winning with me so I went all out straight away.

Tim Caple (46:25.225)

Didn't, during that fight with, with Mattioli, Jim Watt notice that Mattioli wasn't using his right hand.

Maurice Hope Mbe (46:36.941)

That's right I'm saying the first thing I did out here, I realized that you were trying to avoid me for so many years,So what I did, I did a non -orthodox style and went straight out, you know what I mean? He never respected that. I went straight out and he went out with my little friend and he dropped he got back up but he claimed he when dropped, maybe he did, maybe he didn't he claimed when he dropped he broke his hand but I feel it's because when he got up I tried to knock him out again and he had his hand so close

I couldn't get through it but I was hitting his hand and I think I hit it so hard that I broke it. That's my opinion.

Tim Caple (47:59.208)

You said you'd give him a rematch and you did, which seemed quite generous the following year. This was after you beat Mike Baker in that TKO. And then you had one more successful defense against Carlos Herrera before. It's May 1980. It's the big one, isn't it? You're going to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas to take on...

Wilfred Benitez, the Puerto Rican from New York City

Tim Caple (48:35.527)

when you were going into fights like that today, you know, if you've got a fight, you're putting a fighter in, you'll be able to get copies of DVDs or tapes of every one of their fights. How much did you know or had you seen of Benitez before you got there?

Maurice Hope Mbe (48:49.965)

I admit it, I saw quite a few of them because we sat down and we watched quite a few of them. Quite a few of his fights. But I knew he was very good. But I felt confident in myself that I could beat him because he was coming up a weight. He was a welterweight whereas I was a light middleweight and I felt I could have beaten him.

Maurice Hope Mbe (49:20.205)

I didn't realize how hot and humid Las Vegas,was I've never been to Las Vegas and I didn't realize how the climate there would affect me.

Tim Caple (49:32.263)

there was a good line in the book where Terry said, don't worry about the climate, you come from Antigua, you'll be all right.

Maurice Hope Mbe (49:38.125)

I had got acclimatised to life in England as well but the climate is very different in Antigua it is hot but breezy as well etc.

Tim Caple (49:48.839)

Now tell me, did you, before you got into that fight with Benitez, did you have an offer on the table to fight Sugar Ray Leonard?

Maurice Hope Mbe (49:57.805)

definitely definitely, yeah, but it just wasn't happening. It wasn't meant to be. In fact, it wasn't meant to be for me to meet Sugar Ray Leonard like that. But did you know, I've heard about a couple years later on from the Benitez fight that he had a retina detachment now, didn't he? Yeah.

Tim Caple (50:20.999)

Yes he did. And he ended up at your mother's house having cooked food, didn't he?

Yeah, that's right, my mum was there, my mum was there at home and she cooked..

Maurice Hope Mbe (50:27.565)

He ended up being after me, you know, he had a detachment similar to me he came to England just to ask me the question, you know, and what happens and what should he do, you know, because this happened to me, he wanted to know what to do Yeah, I was very honored for him to come all the way to ask me that, you know. My mother cooked for him and his wife.

and we had a good time.

Tim Caple (51:01.223)

You arranged, and I had to read this twice in the book to make sure I got it right, you arranged the day after the Benitez fight to get married in Las Vegas.

Maurice Hope Mbe (51:08.173)

Thank you.

Maurice Hope Mbe (51:14.605)

Yeah sure. Well, one of the things is, I made the arrangement before I came. Because the plan was to celebrate the win and then marry. We planned it before I came there. It didn't happen overnight. We planned it. We planned the marriage.

Tim Caple (51:16.423)

That wasn't a good choice.

Maurice Hope Mbe (51:43.181)

You know there were supposed to be two winners that night. But you know, he changed our plans, You know, so I'm saying to them at the hospital I'm all right. I've got to get up now. I've got to get married today.

Maurice Hope Mbe (52:11.597)

They come up with this funny idea that you know, Benitez hit me so hard that I didn't know where I was going to get married.

Tim Caple (52:31.621)

But is it true that you couldn't smile in the photographs because he'd knocked two of your teeth out?

Maurice Hope Mbe (52:41.005)

Yes That is unbelievable. Cornelius Boza Edwards. You remember him? he was there and he, he got used to the climate He was living there and he got used to it. In fact, I think I know he was one of the main downfall that I lost that fight because, you know, I'd done all my training before I left England.

Maurice Hope Mbe (53:10.637)

But when I went over there, he was fighting a week after me. So staying in the same place, everyone here. Unfortunately, he did the wrong thing. He got up and went running

He's accustomed to the place I'm not. And one of the foolish things I've done, I've done all my training before I came. But you know, we run together and it's competitive I always want to win even in a running race when we were jogging

And it affected me in the fight after five rounds I was tired. I was so tired you saw it happen to other british fighters coming to Vegas

Tim Caple (54:23.364)

Barry McGuigan, yeah?

Maurice Hope Mbe (54:24.548)

That's right, they're going to see the same thing happen the same thing. That's the way it is. The money is good there, but you know you gotta pay for that. You gotta go to that weather. You know you're gonna be there. You can't go there one week before a fight You go there months in advance and get used to climate

Tim Caple (54:50.18)


I want to finish with something that's not boxing related, but it was another big event in your life. It was when you got the MBE and you went to Buckingham Palace to collect the MBE. Now, you're sat there all kneeling there picking up your medal from the Queen and you tried to show a photograph, but in the end, you ended up

Maurice Hope Mbe (55:16.163)


Tim Caple (55:22.596)

Not only with the MBE, you've got a private audience.

Maurice Hope Mbe (55:29.091)

So many of us were going to get there and do stuff then. So I said to myself, I want my lady to remember me. Because what you do there, you just go up and shake her hand, thank you ma'am, she gives you the medal thank you next, thank you next, thank you next. You realize that? And there's so many people. I said I want more than that. I want her to remember me. So luckily enough, my dad worked in the London hospital.

one day when my dad was working in London hospital and he took a picture of her. You know, of the Queen

So we've got that picture in our front room, my dad shaking the queen hand, on the wall, and that's her favorite picture there. So I took a little clip of that, here in my pocket, to show her, because that was my plan. When it's my turn to get my medal, I'm shaking her hand, she wants to get rid of me, so I realize I could have been in trouble. So I spoke to her, I said, excuse me ma'am, would you allow me to show you something?

and I put my hand in my pocket, breast pocket, actually I realized I could have been in trouble there if they saw me. You know what she said to me, you know what she said to me, what are you, what have you got, what have you got to show me, I couldn't believe it, I've done it already. I couldn't believe it, I said I've got a picture to show you mam, I've got a picture. And she says not now, not now, you know what, you're here, you go with me and I thought that was the end of it.

Maurice Hope Mbe (57:17.858)

You know, I could never believe what would happen. Two big soldiers came to me and said, Maurice Hope I said yes. And he says, come with me. I couldn't believe it. I realized it's something going to be something with the Queen. So I said, Mom, Dad, hold on a minute. I'll see you in a minute. Anyway, they took me to this enormous room. I couldn't believe it. Inside, the front room is the biggest room I've ever seen.

yeah, Buckingham Palace, right then they left me in there

anyway, after five minutes, there she was, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe who would come and see me, man, but I, you know what I mean?

. And I jumped up, she says, now then, what have you got to show me? I've got this here. I put my hand in my pocket here, breast pocket, quick. I put out that picture. I said, I've got this picture, man. This is this here. That's my dad here. He was shaking his hand and I'm very proud. I'm proud of you and I'm proud of him. I've got it all here. You know you.

I pray with you and thank you very much ma 'am for this award. You know you? Yeah, and you look very nice, you look very beautiful ma 'am and I couldn't believe it. She said thank you, thank you young man and I have to know, till I die I will always remember that lady and she came looking for me. How many people does a queen come looking for?

Maurice Hope Mbe (59:11.584)

Well, I could always say, a lovely lady, and I'll always remember that by her. And I'll always talk that till I die. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Tim Caple

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